Stolen plane crashes after unauthorized takeoff at Seattle airport

Howard TerryAug 11, 2018

"Alaska Airlines believes a ground service agent employed by Horizon Air was the individual responsible for flying the Horizon Q400 without clearance from Sea-Tac International Airport around 8 p.m. tonight". Normal operations at Sea-Tac have resumed.

Alaska Airlines confirmed a Horizon Airlines Q400 Turboprop made an unauthorised take-off from the airport.

A "suicidal" airline mechanic stole an Alaska Airlines plane without any passengers on it, took off from Washington state, and crashed near an island.

Two F-15s fighter jets pursued the plane but were not involved in the crash, KIRO7 reported.

The Pierce County Sheriff's Office said it was "not a terrorist incident", adding the man was local and 29.

The plane belonging to regional carrier Horizon was stolen from SeaTac and crashed into Ketron Island southwest of Tacoma, officials said.

Mr Tilden said: "We are still gathering facts, but at this point, we understand there was only one person aboard, an employee of Horizon Air, who was operating the aircraft". The Q400 is a turboprop aircraft with 76 seats.

The plane was allegedly "flying around Puget Sound", before later reports indicated there was a "large smoke plume" at Ketron Island. "It clearly seemed immediately like there was a plane crash", he said.

The man, who was addressed as "Rich" in audio recordings with air traffic controllers, said he didn't want to land at a nearby military base.

The air traffic controller can also be heard trying to talk him into landing.

Spokesmen for the Transportation Security Administration, the US Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Aviation Administration directed inquiries to local authorities.

The plane crashed on Ketron Island, which had 17 inhabitants, per the 2010 Census, and 10 families. "I was kind of hoping that was going to be it, you know".

A witness on the ground, Bryan Sichley, said he was at Chambers Bay in Tacoma and saw a plane nose dive after being chased by two fighter jets. It reported that the plane was stolen by a mechanic. The sheriff said he was probably killed in the crash. He said he didn't see the crash but saw smoke.

This is a developing news story.

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